Banet-Weiser (2012, p. 8) says, “building a brand is about building an affective, authentic relationship with a consumer”, a profound exchange of meaning and intention. This strive for genuineness is a standard aspect of human nature, in an accelerated culture of screen, plastic, and CGI. Is an innate drive to repel the fake and embrace the real, a survival instinct? It’s perhaps one of the main reasons I continuously cringed during our screening of Eighth Grade (2018), also why I loved the film. The distinct words and phrases Kayla would say would sometimes seem so rehearsed, so manufactured by the workings of her own teenage mind and the trends fed to her generation, it was overwhelming.
Because that was me about ten years ago. A vessel for popular catchphrases, fashion styles, and products of the moment I’d interact with on the internet, television, or print media. This was the construct of my own persona, and, should personas come across fixed and ‘fictional’, will fail to achieve meaningful producer-audience relationships. An ‘authentic’, seemingly unrestrained brand is not impossible. In fact, we see many YouTubers today praised for their authentic promotion of sense of self. In our audio exercise, everyone we interviewed felt they were being themselves. Each person’s identity was only supplemented by the clothes they wore, the brands they showed off, and not dictated by such things. These are valid ideas when it comes to our experience at VidCon, because every creator is somehow present in the creation and perception of their own online persona and online brand, whether intentional or not.
Eighth Grade 2018, film, A24, United States, directed by Bo Burnham.
Banet-Weiser, S 2012, ‘Introduction: Branding the Authentic’ and ‘Conclusion: The Politics of Ambivalence’ in AuthenticTM: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture (NYU Press)
It’s with practice that the filming exercises and setup routines we know become ingrained in memory, ideally for when we visit VidCon. VidCon is advertised as an online video conference, but only YouTube and its own creators are heavily promoted. Every year, we’re introduced to more online video applications and websites — Twitch, Vimeo, Netflix, TikTok, etc. Their rise in popularity should suggest the immense value audiences place on online video entertainment. Because these creators are establishing their place and content in the evolution of screen media, they offer us a unique perspective, and should also be featured at VidCon Australia.
For this assignment, I hoped to turn my mundane daily walk with my dog (and family) into something beautiful, to focus on the little things, such as flowers I usually only breeze past. My GorillaPod made it easier to stabilise shots. I had some technical issues with my Sony RX100 V, so I resorted to my Canon EOS M3 — which lacks 4K and slow-motion features. However, I manipulated natural lighting, shot variation, and musicality to bring this routine to life.
The Online Video studio has me super engaged, for two reasons. Conceptually, everything that’s been mentioned about online media is already subconsciously known to me. It’s like this huge wake-up call, because the screen ecology we are learning about is the one we are participating in, and building, at this moment. There’s no greater time to learn about the affordances of the online space as right now, what with evolving technology, low barriers to entry, and the ease with which we are able to place ourselves in this moment of what one day will be, screen history.
Cunningham and Craig (2019, p. 13) talk about the internet’s screen environment being a place where “social media communication and entertainment content,” inevitably meet. This fuels a sense of interactivity that rebels against the one-directional flow of message/content, from creator to audience. Now every video on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, is at its core a collaboration between producer (making media) and an active audience (indicating what they want to see).
The second reason is the technical element of this studio. For our first assignment, I was overwhelmed because it’s my first time using vlog in place of blog posts. Alas, I’m excited because it allows me extra opportunities to practice scripting, filming, and editing. I have experience with these activities, but I find that in all media-making (especially for the online environment), there’s hardly ever a point in which I feel like I have finished learning.
Cunningham, S & Craig, D 2019, Social Media Entertainment: The New Intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, NYU Press, USA.